In 1895 the Lanchester Brothers began work on their first motor vehicle and in 1896 Lanchester ‘No.1’ took to the streets. It was arguably Britain’s first petrol engined car. The engineering genius behind it – Fredrick Lanchester – was to become renowned (along with Henry Royce and Harry Riccardo) as one of the ‘big three’ english automotive engineers.
Fredrick was responsible for over 450 innovations and patents that are commonly found on road cars today, not least the disc brake which was in production in 1902.
Lanchester ‘No.1’ was destroyed in a WWII bombing raid, but a second car ‘No.2’ – completed in 1897 – still exists today and reportedly resides at Wroughton. It has two horizontally opposed cylinders and produces 8 hp at 700rpm. Incidentally – that vertical flap at the front folds down to cover your knees and keep them warm – it’s the original ‘dash-board’.